A three-time Pro Bowl linebacker just hit the open market. Should the Dallas Cowboys try to sign the 29-year old, former San Francisco 49er NaVorro Bowman?
One of the biggest areas of weakness on this Dallas Cowboys roster has been run defense. And that can be directly connected to the injury issues the Cowboys linebacker corps has suffered throughout this season.
Dallas currently ranks 20th in the NFL in run defense, allowing an average of 118.0 rushing yards per game to opposing offenses. And with defensive tackle Stephen Paea announcing his retirement earlier this week, that number could go up.
Injuries to linebackers Anthony Hitchens (knee) and Sean Lee (hamstring) forced the Cowboys to play second-year phenom Jaylon Smith more than they’ve wanted to this season. And the player who sat out all of last season due to a devastating knee injury, and is essentially a rookie, has looked like one in his first five games.
Both Hitchens and Lee are expected to make their return following the Cowboys Week Six bye. But the fact is, the depth behind both linebackers is thin. Justin Durant looks old and slow. Damien Wilson has taken a huge step backwards in his development, And Kyle Wilber is…well…Kyle Wilber.
The Cowboys could use a boost along their linebacker corps. And luckily, they may find one via their next opponent. On Friday, the San Francisco 49ers released longtime veteran linebacker NaVorro Bowman.
The 29-year old linebacker is a three-time Pro Bowler, four-time first team All-Pro who is coming off an Achilles injury from last year that limited him to just four games. He also missed all of 2014 due to a ACL/MCL tear.
But between 2011-2013 and 2015, there was likely no one better. In that span, Bowman averaged a incredible 147.5 total tackles per year and played all 16 games in those seasons.
The Niners valued Bowman so much, they actually gave him a seven-year, $77 million deal in August of 2016. But since then, a new regime has taken over in the City by the Bay. And that front office drafted Bowman’s replacement, Alabama’s Reuben Foster, in the first round of this year’s NFL draft.
Through five games so far this season, Bowman has recorded 38 total tackles and one pass defend. That would be the second most on the Cowboys roster, as Jaylon Smith currently leads the team with 41 tackles.
Bowman’s massive contract made him nearly impossible to acquire in a trade. But now that he’s a free agent, he can sign with any team for any amount above the veteran minimum.
At only 29-years old, a player like NaVorro Bowman should still have plenty left in the tank. With the injuries suffered along their linebacker corps, the Dallas Cowboys would seem like a nice destination for the talented tackler and run stopper. Signing Bowman would not only solidly the Cowboys run defense, but provide yet another mentor to Jaylon Smith and allow the team to develop him slowly.